Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Roof damage is whenever the inside of your home is not protected because vulnerabilities have occurred in the roof structure. It can happen a variety of ways. These include:

  • Age
  • Rodent damage
  • Weather damage

When roof damage occurs, take the appropriate steps to fix it as soon as possible so your home and everyone inside it is protected.

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How much does a new roof cost?

Roof replacement costs can vary depending on the size of your roof and the materials used. On average, the cost to replace a roof can range from $1,700 to $8,500.

With insurance, the cost of a new roof or the repair of your roof will depend on the age of the roof and insurance policies.

Does homeowners insurance cover wind and hail damage?

Yes, but you will most likely have to pay a separate deductible — meaning that if your home suffers any damage from extreme hail, you’ll have to pay a separate hail deductible that is different from your regular deductible.

Does homeowners insurance cover leaks?

Homeowners insurance will cover a leaky roof under certain conditions, including when damage happens quickly instead of being the result of years of neglect or when the leak was caused by something that is clearly covered in your homeowners insurance policy.

The hardest part will likely be proving that the damage was done quickly and was not the result of neglect or ignorance. This will be especially difficult if you don’t notice the leak until it makes its way into your living quarters.

Homeowners that live in colder climates often have to deal with this scenario. Having ice and snow on their roofs for a significant part of the winter, these homeowners have roofs with strain and weight on them throughout the year. When the roof begins to cave, it’s not obvious because the gap is covered up by months’ worth of built up ice and snow. Only once spring rolls around is the damage in full view (both inside and out).

Does homeowners insurance cover older roofs?

The age of your roof and insurance determine whether your roof is covered. Many insurance providers only pay you what your roof is worth if it’s over 20 years. Some require an inspection, and it’s possible that if the roof doesn’t pass your application will be denied.

Limits to roof coverage

Roof insurance does come with a few limitations. They are:

  • Squirrel damage: Gradual squirrel damage to your roof is not covered. Though the damage they do can cost a lot of money to fix, homeowners insurance doesn’t protect you against squirrels from moving into your home.
  • Hurricane damage: Hurricane damage is often covered, but flood water often is not, so you may need to get separate flood insurance. Furthermore, if you live in a coastal area, you’ll likely have to pay an additional deductible for any hurricane coverage.
  • Ice damage: Typically homeowners insurance does cover ice dam damage, but if water leaks inside the home, any personal property damaged won’t be covered.

How to file a roof damage insurance claim

    Filing a roof-related insurance claim will be familiar if you’ve ever had to file another type of claim. Here is how you do it:

    1. If a storm has damaged your roof, take pictures of any damage you find. This evidence will be invaluable when submitting your claim.
    2. Don’t wait for your insurance provider to state whether it will cover any repairs you need. Contact a contractor to have the repairs taken care of as soon as possible. Any damage done by a storm can leave your roof susceptible to further damage.
    3. Call your insurance provider quickly to submit a claim. Depending on your provider, you probably have about a month before it’s too late; however, there’s no reason to wait. Contact them as soon as possible to see if they will cover any damages. If they will, file a claim with your agent. You will most likely be able to do this either over the phone or through your insurance provider’s website.
    4. Arrange for your insurance provider to send a claim inspector out to your home to do a visual inspection of any damage to your property.

    If you can, routinely take pictures of your roof so that you can have a basis for before and after photos. At the very least, do it before a big storm is expected in your area.

    How to prevent roof damage

    Some roof damage is hard to prevent, but you can take steps to keep your roof in good condition.

    • Install impact resistant shingles: Solid roofing materials will go a long way when it comes to preventing roof damage over the years. Impact-resistant shingles will protect your roof against hail and will look cosmetically better over the years too.
    • Clean your gutters throughout the year: A debris clog can prevent water from draining from the roof. This will also cause an unnecessary weight burden on the overall roof structure as a whole. If you’re uncomfortable cleaning your gutters, always hire a professional to clean your gutters for you.
    • Inspect roof flashing: Inspecting your flashing about once every three years is a great way to prevent roof damage. If the flashing wasn’t installed correctly, it’s easy for water to leak into your home and cause damage from top to bottom. That said, the flashing will likely peel away from your roof over the years naturally as weather wears away the caulking. It’s an easy fix, however, and usually only requires a reapplication of weather-resistant caulk.
    • Trim overhanging branches: The less danger your roof is in of anything falling on it, the better. If you can’t easily do it yourself, hire a professional tree pruning service.
    • Cut down nearby trees: Have a tree removal company cut down any trees you think pose a risk to the safety of your home.
    • Rake off snow. Using a roof rake, rake off any excessive snow during the winter. The added weight can place too much strain on the roof system.
    • Add additional insulation to the attic. Extra insulation can protect you from ice dams. Should too much heat escape to the attic from the main house, it can melt the ice on the roof, which will then refreeze as temperatures drop. This in turn can cause an ice dam to occur that could cause water to back up into your home.
    • Replace missing shingles. If you lose a shingle during heavy winds, you need to replace it. The loss of even one shingle can cause a domino effect on your roof system as whole, causing problems like from wood rot or the loss of more shingles. If you’re uncomfortable getting on your roof, contact a professional.
    • Learn the signs of damage: If you notice problems like water damage, it may be a sign of roof issues. Be able to identify problems and fix them quickly.

    Bottom line

    Taking care of your roof requires constant vigilance. It shouldn’t be something you only think about when things turn sour. However, even if you stay on top of it, you still need a standout insurance provider.

Lauren Ward
Lauren Ward
Contributing Writer

Lauren Ward is a personal finance writer living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and three children. In her spare time she enjoys board games and gardening.

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